Thursday, August 12, 2010

Color Me Brown!

Color Me Brown is a feature in which interesting links are showcased that have to do with people of color. They can be news articles, interviews or and/or reviews. Leave your own links in the comments :)

Doret at TheHappyNappyBookseller shares this week's new releases

At BookGazing blog there is an interview with Sarwat Chadda, the author of Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess. Devil's Kiss is amazing! I just started Dark Goddess and it's going great so far.

I found it really interesting that you made your main character female and gave her a Muslim parent, then made her part of a group that is almost exclusively male and Christian. What made you decide to make Billi a member of the Knights Templar? Did you consider making Billi part of a Muslim group, or a female warrior force, that is out to fight the forces of evil?

The name of the game is tension and how to create it as soon as possible. The standard cliché is the son following in the father’s footsteps, so how much more interesting it would be if we had a daughter taking the role, it is the 21st Century, after all.

By starting with the extremes a dynamic tension was created between Billi and the other knights, between her and her father, and her personal desires and her responsibilities. Devil’s Kiss is a story about these extremes.

With regard to Billi being part of other groups that is something that I explore in depth in
Dark Goddess where she encounters the Polenitsy, a group of Russian Amazons. As Devil’s Kiss was centred around a powerful male group, so Dark Goddess centres around an equally powerful female group and Billi’s attraction to it.

If all goes well and there are more books, I would then explore Billi’s Muslim heritage. When I worked on an early draft of Devil’s Kiss there was far more in it regarding Billi’s Islamic upbringing but I realised the story was becoming way too crowded.

At My Brown Baby blog, Denene Milner declares We Need More Blacks Children's Books on Borders' Bookshelves It is both funny and sad. I hope it inspires more people to take action. Write a letter, send an email, buy books by/about PoC, and anything else you think would be helpful.

Now, you know how I do: I’m a huge proponent of children’s books featuring characters that look like my girlpies, and I’m especially gangsta about getting these books into the hands of ALL children, not just black kids (as chronicled in my post EVERYBODY Should Read Black Children’s Books). So I insisted that I be able to by-pass Borders's pre-selected (white-washed) offerings to select and donate a few of my favorite children’s books from the children’s section.

Problem was, they didn’t have any black children’s books. There was no "Ruby and the Booker Boys." No "Tar Beach." No "Wilhemina Rules." No "Pruella and the Boo Hag" or "Dancing in the Wings" or "Home Made Love." Not one book with a child of color—ANY color—up on those shelves, within arm’s reach for kids to grab and read and giggle at and enjoy. And with every second I had to dig, my anger became more palpable—much to the chagrin of the Borders employee charged with helping me pick books to donate.

Me: I’m not really clear why there aren’t any books for or about children of color here.
Borders Chick: Well, if no one buys them, we don’t order them.
Me: Well if they’re not here to buy, then it’s kinda hard for us to buy them, isn’t it?
Borders Chick: It’s headquarters that decides what books will be stocked, so my guess is they have more of a selection at Stonecrest Mall. (Note: This would be the “black” mall. About 40 minutes from where I and many other black moms who buy books for our children actually live.)
Me: *massive side-eye* I don’t live near Stonecrest. I live two minutes from this store.
Borders Chick: I found one! *triumphantly waving in my face a copy of Sharon Draper’s “Sassy,” which she dug from the back of a dark shelf near the floor. As if she'd just found the solution to world peace.*

Me: *another massive side-eye and a lip twist* Y’all need to do better.

At Helen's Book Blog there is a review of Perfect Shot by Debbie Riguad

The characters in this book--mostly London, Brent, her best friend Pam, but with a host of secondary characters--are all believable. They have normal dialogue and actions and I liked the main characters. They would be people I would enjoy having as students. I especially like that London is a strong female. She plays volleyball well, is a good student, and gets along with her family. Yay, a "normal" teenager in a book.

Tarie at Into the Wardrobe has a review of Sweet 15 by Emily Adler and Alex Echevarria

Sweet 15 by Emily Adler and Alex Echevarria (Marshall Cavendish, 2010) is HILARIOUS. Destiny (the novel's narrator) and her family and friends all have a great sense of humor. And all of them - from Destiny's quirky and dorky best guy friend Omar to America's strong and beautiful best friends Hailey and Maritza - are colorful and likable characters. Destiny's mom and America are particularly wacky and have very funny exchanges about the quinceañera.

Sweet 15 is an entertaining story about a young woman discovering who is she and what she wants. It's sometimes packaged as a story about a young woman with a cultural identity crisis of sorts. Sometimes Destiny talks about feeling lost somewhere between the United States and Puerto Rico and "being pulled in different directions by my family with these two different cultures. . ." But these are all just explicit statements found in the book. Destiny doesn't spend time reflecting on this issue and there is no real evidence of this struggle in her life. Sweet 15 is really about Destiny finding her own voice instead of just pleasing her parents and living in her sister's shadow. It's about her figuring out what makes her happy and fighting for it instead of prioritizing what makes her parents, sister, or other people happy.

Reads4Pleasure reviews Substitue Me by Lori Tharps. It sounds like a great novel!

It's important to note that while Zora is black and the Carters are white, their races are not necessarily the central issue. It seems to me that the issue is one woman completely giving power over her life to someone else and then questioning it when that person steps in and does a better job at it. Kate and her mother make racially charged comments about Zora, but if they were being honest with themselves, they would realize that her race has nothing to do with the situation Kate finds herself in.

In Jodi Picoult fashion, Lori L. Tharp has crafted a nanny story that gives the reader all sides. Often the story is only told from the point of view of the nanny. In Substitute Me, you really get a chance to learn the characters and understand that perception really is reality

Books About Hurricane Katrina at White Readers Meet Black Authors

August 29 marks the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the U.S. This year, there are a few books being released to coincide with the anniversary


Tarie Sabido said...

Thank you for the link love, Ari. :o)

Jeannine said...

Ari I love you so much. (Does that make me sound like a stalker?) You are amazing and I loved just picturing the poor Borders employee thinking who does this little girl think she is. Little did she know she was talking to Super Ari. Ready to leap over any bookstore that doesn't carry books with brown faces. She swoopes in, rearranges the shelves and is out before anyone can say WTF!! Gotta go, I think that was the start of my new novel!!!

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to a book review that I wrote. The book was written by an African American woman and I had a chance to meet the her. She is very pleasant!

MissA said...

@Tarie-No problem, it was a great review!

@Jeannine-Haha that wasn't me! It's from Denene Milner's blogpost. Definitely go visit her blog and leave that comment (just change the names ;) She kicked butt!

Good luck with your novel =)

@readinghasapurpose-Thank you for the link. I'm not familiar with the book and I can't wait to read your review.